Ireland Part One – Arrival

My mother’s parents came separately from Ireland to America in the late 1800s (part of the huge emigration caused by the potato famine). My great-grandmother, Kate Barton (only 14 when she left), met and married Thomas Scanlon here. Although unknown to each other in Ireland, both came from the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry, from hamlets near a short spit of land in Dingle Bay called Inch.

When I read about the beauty of the Dingle Peninsula, I began to dream of another family walk. Wonderful Ireland Walking Holidays, the company we used to walk on the Wicklow Way last year, offers a route along the Dingle Way (a 100-mile long-distance trail around the peninsula, linking footpaths, beach traverses, and small roads). Peter Galvin, the helpful owner of Wonderful Ireland, tailored a route for us, selecting portions negotiable by the Bob stroller.

We all arrived in Cork on the south coast of Ireland on the same blustery day – the Alaskans via Reykjavik, Dublin, and a tough, three-hour bus ride. The rest of us touched down at Heathrow and flew on to Cork.

By evening, as the first rain in Ireland for months settled over the city, we ate together at a pizza place in the old part of Cork. The reunited cousins were so glad to see one another, and Baby Brother spotted the first of many pieces of heavy equipment – luckily internationally available to please this two-year old. For a jet-lagged crew, spirits were remarkably high.

The morning brought an uproarious breakfast – if you are six and three and two, a repeated silly phrase brings noisy peals of laughter – in this case occasioned by Sweet Baby renaming her grandfather “Papa Jammy.” (So much fun to hear all that laughter.)

A perfect place to recover for a day, Cork is friendly and unpretentious. The historical part of the city sits on an island formed by two strands of the River Lee, and we walked a circle to see local landmarks. We learned about the history of Cork at a small museum, and at the 17th Century Elizabeth Fort, the youngest three were eager to scale the ramparts (but taken aback by realistic models of heads on pikes). We looked in at the English Market (full of local produce and meat), found a good playground and bookstore, and retreated from rain to a Mexican comfort dinner next to the hotel.

The next day in spite of valiant efforts, we missed our scheduled train from Cork to Tralee. As frequently happens in Ireland, helpful people (train staff in this case) pitched in to help with the baggage and direct us to an alternate train. On the train we ate lunches, played UNO, and saw the first of a multitude of sheep, many vacas, and an occasional crane truck or excavator. In Tralee, a van, pulling a trailer (suitcases, strollers, and backpacks in duffle bags) picked us up, and delivered us to Camp Village on the north coast of the peninsula.

For dinner, we walked uphill to Ashes pub – a 200-year old building welcoming with a real fireplace ablaze, cozy lighting, lots of locals, good beer and food. I asked our server about the names Barton and Scanlon, and she said, “Oh, you’re in Scanlonland around here!”

In the morning we would begin by walking up and over to cross the interior of the peninsula to Inch Beach!

9 thoughts on “Ireland Part One – Arrival

  1. I’ve been looking forward to this first installment. So happy to read about this happy adventure. My great-grandfather was a Barton also, but I have no idea what part of Ireland he was from. Thanks for sharing your trip with us – I eagerly await the next leg!

  2. Oh, Katy, how exciting that you were recently in Ireland and visiting family! My family comes from Donegal, but I don’t know much about them. However, we visited Ireland the first two weeks in September last month and toured Dublin, Kilkenny, Killarney, and Dingle – including Inch Beach! From there we went to Galway and then back to Dublin. I hope to go again and visit Donegal, Sligo, etc. Can’t wait to read more about your adventure including laughter of the children and lots of family love! 💖☘️💚

    • Thank you Carol – what a great trip you had! We unfortunately didn’t visit family – though there must be some distant relatives in the area – and lots of genetic kin. We did love it, and meant a lot to be there with the grandchildren. It was fun to hear you had been to Inch Beach!

  3. What a great family adventure! The next generation of walkers are being inspired and challenged by parents and grandparents…..could life be any better. Sweet memories being made.

  4. Dear Katy – I love reading about your ‘ventures! What a blessing to be able to walk those same paths where your parents grew up, and with your children and grandchildren. I can hardly wait to read the next installment. You have a delightful way with words! I felt I was right there seeing it all as well.

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